Barks quote
Coleman Barks changed his life's direction when, in 1976, Robert Bly showed him some scholarly translations of the ecstatic poems of Jelaluddin Rumi, a thirteenth-century Sufi mystic, and told him, "These poems need to be released from their cages." Captivated by Rumi's humor, wisdom, and spiritual depth, and the apparently effortless qualities of a poet as famous in the Islamic world as Shakespeare is in the West, Barks took up the challenge. In collaboration with Persian linguist John Moyne, he has become the primary conduit bringing Rumi's mystical consciousness into English, translating and publishing fifteen collections of Rumi's poems, most recently THE ILLUMINATED RUMI (1997) and THE ESSENTIAL RUMI (1995). A poet in his own right and teacher of contemporary American poetry, Coleman Barks recently retired from the University of Georgia, Athens, where he taught for thirty years and was named Professor Emeritus of English. He often collaborates in performances with musicians, including members of the Paul Winter Consort, and with the dancer-storyteller Zuleikha. His work was featured in "Love's Confusing Joy," an hour-long program with Bill Moyers filmed at the 1994 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and included in the 1995 PBS special THE LANGUAGE OF LIFE.